The ability to breastfeed – NOT the benchmark of perfect motherhood

“Breastfeeding is paramount and should be done at any cost”

The phrase quoted above is very common but it’s only partially correct. It’s true that breastfeeding is highly recommended due to several reasons but whether it should be done at any cost is something that I don’t agree with. Confused? Everything will become crystal clear, just keep reading.

Yes, breastfeeding is an essential part of motherhood and there are numerous factors which substantiate it –

  1. Breast milk provides essential nutrients and micro-nutrients to the infant which ultimately helps in the overall development of the body
  2. Breast milk is loaded with antibodies which helps the infant fight against bacteria and infections
  3. Breastfeeding can prevent mothers from several diseases post pregnancy like breast cancer, type 2 diabetes, thyroid, etc.
  4. Breastfeeding is a wonderful and unique way of building bond between mother and her infant

Nonetheless, if a mother is unable to breastfeed or chooses not to do so, then what? Does it mean that mothers are not trying hard enough or aren’t concerned about the development of their infant? Absolutely not. The designation of a mother is not obtained by attaining a college degree. A mother is born when either she brings a life to this world or she has a child to take care of. That’s a precious gift that only women are showered with, so nobody could be more concerned about a child’s well-being than their own mother.

But why is it that few mothers can’t or won’t breastfeed? It has got to do with both their physical and mental capability. Sometimes due to medical reasons like low production of breast milk, ongoing medical treatment, surgery precautions, etc. mothers are unable to breastfeed and even if they do it’s not enough to satiate the infant. Also, there could be scenarios when mothers don’t do it by choice or when-

  • Breastfeeding is hard
  • Pumping is difficult

Everybody talks about breastfeeding as if it’s a child’s play. However, the whole process is extremely difficult and requires high threshold. Hence, if the process becomes unbearable then it’s fine to pause and reflect on alternatives.

That’s why we need to understand that despite its benefits, if breastfeeding is unsuccessful due to any reason whatsoever, it doesn’t imply that growth of the child wouldn’t happen. There are other alternatives like –

  • Formula milk
  • Breast milk of donors

that would enable healthy growth of the child. Even the concern about bond building can be addressed, in various other ways–

  • Mother and infant can spend time skin-to-skin
  • Mothers can hold the infant close to her by wrapping them around her using a wrap or sling
  • Talk and sing to the baby
  • Enjoy the feeding time using alternatives

The phase a woman goes through after her child comes into her life, is very sensitive. She undergoes multiple changes, physically and mentally. She undergoes hormonal changes as well, which, if ignored could lead to postpartum depression, the percentage of which has been increasing with every passing year. Thus, it’s very important that mothers keep their emotions in check and not stress about things that are beyond their control or threshold. This would ensure good health for the mother and for the baby.

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